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Restored version of David Bowie in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ heading for Fall theatrical release
12:53 pm


David Bowie
Nicolas Roeg

Nicolas Roeg‘s heady 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth is probably about as close to being a part of David Bowie‘s discography as a movie can possibly be. Biographically, Bowie was in the middle of an adventurous phase that would produce Station to Station and he was about to head for Berlin, where he would make Low and Heroes, he was thoroughly coked up and paranoid and more than dabbling in the occult, and the album art for Bowie’s Station to Station derived from his work on Roeg’s movie. Watching the movie is an essential rite of passage for any David Bowie fan.

How happy, then, to learn that the 40th anniversary of The Man Who Fell to Earth is slated to receive a spiffy new restored version and a theatrical release. The movie will return to theaters in digital 4K under the guidance of the movie’s cinematographer, Anthony Richmond.

In the movie, Bowie plays Thomas Jerome Newton, an extraterrestrial on a mission to bring Earth’s plentiful water back to his parched home planet—however, distracted by material concerns, he uses his planet’s advanced technology to become a dissolute millionaire.

The Man Who Fell to Earth has already been released as a Criterion edition DVD. A collector’s edition of the movie is due to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD and for download this autumn. The restoration had been in the works since late 2015, predating Bowie’s death this January. StudioCanal’s Vintage Classic line will be handling the home video release.

The Man Who Fell To Earth will commence a theatrical run on September 9 and be available to own on October 10. It should be fun to attend screenings with a crowd full of like-minded Bowie fans—a perfect occasion for pharmaceutical enhancement.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
God of Hellfire: Arthur Brown incinerates the hairy hordes at Glastonbury Fayre

Alice Cooper is often credited with being the originator of “shock rock” but there were at least two rock provocateurs who preceded him: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and “God of Hellfire” Arthur Brown. While there were plenty of crazed novelty acts that fell into the “one hit wonders” category, Hawkins (who died in 2000) and Brown (still alive) have stood the test of time. In the case of both men, the “shock” aspect of their performances often transcended over-the-top theatrics to become a kind of pop culture ritual magic. Underneath the spook show surface, there was something genuinely unsettling but ultimately liberating in their art. When Hawkins put a spell on you there was a good reason to be concerned. The bone in his nose may have been for laughs, but there was the sound of the graveyard in his subterranean growl. And Arthur Brown put more than just a dram or two of mystical gasoline in his flaming crucible. His crazy world IS crazy. A showman, shaman and satirist, Brown can invoke powerful mojo with a wave of his spidery hand.

In June of 1971, Arthur Brown performed at the Glastonbury Fair rock festival. A motley gathering of hippies, easy riders and suburban sadhus, the festival was a mini-Woodstock in renaissance fair drag. Swarming with enough body hair to carpet the moon and more mud-encrusted nude men than a mosh pit at Kumbh Mela. The gathering was a group grope of epic proportions where men seemed to outnumber women by at least two to one. Pink void meets the sausageful of secrets.

Fifteen years later events like these would inspire punks to declare “kill the hippies.”  So it is quite surprising that the filmed document of the festival,  Glastonbury Fayre, isn’t an acid reflux of The Summer Of Love but an engrossing slice of cinema. Despite puke-inducing scenes of flower power gone to seed, stoned freaks blathering cosmic gibberish and a cringe-inducing appearance by the slimy Maharaj Ji—the Justin Bieber of gurus—Glastonbury Fayre manages to capture something bordering on the magical. The festival took place a mere 50 miles from Stonehenge and the movie is appropriately stoned and unhinged.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Mick Jagger, James Fox, Anita Pallenberg, Nic Roeg, Donald Cammell filming ‘Performance’ in 1968

The stories about the making of Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s Performance are almost as infamous as the movie itself. Some are true, some are not. But even the most excessive tales of sex and drugs and, well you know, rock ‘n’ roll during its making have never eclipsed the visceral power of the film itself.

Performance was written by Cammell. He had Marlon Brando teed-up to star as Chas—an American gangster in London who holes-up with a reclusive pop star. As Cammell worked on the script, he became more obsessed with identity, sexuality and violence. It made the script a far darker thing. When Brando dropped out, James Fox moved in.

Fox was best known for a certain kind of upper class character—either being exploited as in Joseph Losey’s The Servant, or being comically stiff upper lip as can be seen in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, or just being the right honorable eye-candy in Throughly Modern Millie. Fox took his role as Chas very, very seriously. He spent (according to some reports) six months “going native” with a few of London’s most notorious East End gangsters.

The casting of Mick Jagger as the androgynous, bisexual, drug-addled rock star recluse Turner was a touch of genius. At that time, no one could have played the part with Jagger’s ethereal, fey menace. As a side note: Jagger and the rest of The Rolling Stones thought they were going to star in a swinging sixties Beatlesque romp with lots of musical numbers and Dick Lester antics.

Roeg was originally only hired as the cameraman. When filming began in a house on Powis Square, London, Cammell became all too aware that he did not know what he was doing behind the camera, and needed someone else to be the eyes while he created the mood, tension and magic in front of the lens.

This magic included consuming large quantities of drugs and (allegedly) some full on sex between Jagger and co-stars Anita Pallenberg and Michèle Breton. Pallenberg was, of course, Keith Richards’ girlfriend. As Jagger and Pallenberg performed in front of the camera, Richards sat outside the location chain smoking, drinking and fuming over what his fellow Stone and woman were getting up to. The footage of Jagger’s sexual hi-jinks with his co-stars nearly had the film prosecuted and shut down. When the rushes were sent out, the lab refused to process the footage as it was considered pornographic. The footage was destroyed. But some of this explicit footage—or so it has long been rumored—survived and was edited together (allegedly by Cammell himself) into a short porn movie which won first prize at some underground porn festival in Amsterdam.

If it wasn’t the sex, then it was the violence that caused the outrage. Roeg and Cammell presented violence as realistically as possible. No John Wayne slugging it out without so much as a chipped tooth. Instead, this violence was brutal, bloody, arousing and horrific. The British Board of Film Classification objected to the editing together of scenes of a sexual nature with those of excessive and disturbing violence. In particular they wanted the head shaving scene cut as “forcible shaving is something that could be imitated by young people.”

The film studios hated Performance. At an in-house screening, the wife of one producer hurled chunks. A recut was demanded. While Roeg was off in Australia directing Walkabout, Cammell weaved some of his “alchemical magic” in the cutting room.

When it was eventually released in 1970, Performance was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews. The critic for LIFE magazine described Performance as “the most completely worthless film I have ever seen since I began reviewing.” This is still one of the very few reviews Roeg has ever kept. Warner Brothers threatened to sue both directors on the grounds they had failed to deliver the Beatlesque Stones’ movie they had “expected.”

Thankfully, Cammell and Roeg had chosen their own course and stuck to it. Today, Performance is considered one of the most original and influential movies made during the 1960s. Fox is unforgettable. Jagger has never been better onscreen. While Roeg went on to greater success, Cammell was never to be allowed to express such completeness of vision again.
James Fox as East End gangster Chas.
Much more behind the scenes of ‘Performance’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
David Bowie on location filming ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’
09:55 am


David Bowie
Nicolas Roeg

David Bowie was blasted out of his mind on cocaine during the making of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. It was his first major feature film, but Bowie often didn’t know what was “being made at all.” He worked off his instinct, as he later told Rolling Stone magazine:

“I just learned the lines for that day and did them the way I was feeling. It wasn’t that far off. I actually was feeling as alienated as that character was. It was a pretty natural performance. ... a good exhibition of somebody literally falling apart in front of you. I was totally insecure with about 10 grams a day in me. I was stoned out of my mind from beginning to end.”

The film was adapted from Walter Tevis’ sci-fi novel of the same name, which told the story of a humanoid alien, Thomas Jerome Newton, who arrives on Earth, with hopes to build a spacecraft to help transport the remnant population of his home planet Anthea, which has been almost wiped out by a surface-wide drought.

Bowie starred as the extraterrestrial Newton, sharing the screen with American Graffiti‘s Candy Clark as his human lover, and gave a startling performance—edgy, strange, and slightly disconnected from those around him. Added to Roeg’s distinctive directorial vision, The Man Who Fell to Earth is a memorable and thought-provoking film about addiction, desire and the sometimes unbearable extremity of otherness.
More Bowie on the location from ‘The Man Who Fell to earth’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Arthur Brown filmed by Nicolas Roeg at the 1971 Glastonbury Festival: Hellfire!
04:34 am


Nicolas Roeg
Arthur Brown

Arthur Brown’s monumental 1968 hit “Fire” overshadowed a career that consisted of far more than just one great song. In 1971, Brown formed a group called Kingdom Come and released a mindbender of an album called Galactic Zoo Dossier. The opening track “Internal Messenger” is an epic blast of thundering prog rock that melds perfectly with Brown’s hellfire bombast.

This bewitchingly bizarre clip from the 1971 Glastonbury Festival was beautifully shot by Nicolas Roeg and is available on import DVD here.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Nicolas Roeg “shatters reality into a thousand pieces”—and turns 81!

Since we at Dangerous Minds have previously found ourselves marveling at his film Performance, it only makes sense to salute the wonderful English filmmaker Nicolas Roeg on this, his 81st birthday.

Check out Steve Rose’s great interview in the Guardian with the oft-aloof and prickly director (from which I paraphrase this post’s title), and for heaven’s sake check out the man’s films. He’s currently working on a screen adaptation of Martin Amis’s book Night Train.

Here’s a cool overview, with five themes spotlighted, by the excellent film video-essayist Hugo Redrose.

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Performance in the making: Donald Cammell & Mick Jagger

Much like a TARDIS, a Borges short story, or Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg‘s 1970 film, Performance, is far bigger on the inside than its outside might indicate.  Starring Mick Jagger, James Fox and Anita Pallenberg, and with its primary action confined to that of a London flat, Performance manages to explore, in its uniquely heady and hypnotic way, such notions as gender, identity and madness as a function of creativity.

In fact, it feels at times like there’s so much going on within Performance‘s 105 minutes, in terms of philosophical scope and ambition, movies like The Matrix or 2001: A Space Odyssey seem almost puny in comparison.

And much like the London flat itself, Performance is a movie to lose yourself in.  Since my preteen exposure to it via the Z Channel, I must have watched it a good dozen times.  Nevertheless, the film continues to surprise me.  Disorient, too.

Part of this was due, no doubt, to the alchemical editing of co-writer/director Donald Cammell, who sadly, took his own life in ‘96.  Cammell’s ultimately tragic life and career is certainly deserving of its own post at some point, but, in the meantime, what follows is Part I of an absolutely worthwhile 3-part documentary on the making of Performance and the controversy that’s dogged the film ever since its release 30 years ago.  Links to the other parts follow below.

Performance in the making, Part II, III

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment